The start of a new year is always full of exciting possibilities and endless opportunities. It’s a chance to start over and press reset after realising you're in a bit of a rut and not exactly where you want to be right now. But I’m probably not alone in admitting that we start out with these grand plans, and long list of the familiar New Years resolutions, only to find that after a few weeks in we’re back to the same old, realising it isn’t always easy to stick to the goals and dreams we initially had to overhaul all of our habits and routines, and change everything at once.
Sometimes when we set the bar too high at first, we become overwhelmed and have a difficult time sticking to the new habit we tried to adopt. We also have a hard time telling ourselves that something is permanent, rigid and forever. That’s why I’ve personally decided that rather than a list of New Years resolutions this year, I’m going to choose 12 mini 30-day challenges - one for every month of 2021.
Whilst 30-days might not be long enough to make lasting changes, it’s enough time to get the ball rolling on a goal by “trying out” a new habit before fully committing to it. In 30-days, you get to practice a new behaviour daily and strengthen your willpower. Think progress, not perfection. Besides, doing this will no doubt lead to a more fulfilling recap at the end of the year.
My challenge for January is to cut all added sugar from my diet (which happens to mean alcohol too.) Whilst it instantly seems standard and cliche for most of us wanting to detox in the new year, after having an over-indulgent sugar filled festive period, my reasons are geared more towards nerve recovery. I’ve had the best, most indulgent Christmas and New Years' ever, and I more than made up for the time I couldn’t spend with family by eating myself into multiple food comas filled with endless florentines, selection boxes, cheeses and drinking Baileys like it was milkshake! But all the while, I couldn’t help think of my recovery and my face.
I feared I was halting my progress by the food choices I was making. My sister reminded me that it’s silly to assume my diet alone has that much power over my recovery; I eat well 95% of the time and if diet was completely a factor then surely I could have just eaten an extra apple three months ago and not needed to endure the face lift, 7-hour nerve graft or weeks spent with a head garment around my swollen cheeks. Still, my personal recovery goal is to cut all added sugar from my diet and eat only nerve healing foods to aid recovery, or at least feel like I’m really doing my bit (think grains, greens and an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids!)
Cutting a bad habit or replacing it with a better one is never easy but in just 30-days, you can get a real taste of the goal you set yourself, make something part of your routine and solidify that change without the daunting length of time set to complete it. More than anything, I’ve learnt that small steps really do add up overtime. Small changes are far more sustainable and likely to stick and focusing on one task for 30-days is far easier than aiming to achieve a long list of New Years resolutions. Change comes from consistency and repetition, not from extremes.
Every month, for 30 days in a row, commit to doing something you’ve always considered doing before but never followed through with. Notice how this new activity affects your thinking and positively impacts your life. For example, for 30-days you might practice yoga, get eight hours of sleep at night, consume only vegetarian foods, read for 30-minutes, start a journal, drink 10 glasses of water, listen to a positive podcast, write a hand-written letter or declutter various areas of your life.
As Brian Keane said in Rewire Your Mindset (a book totally worth reading):
“You don’t decide your future. You decide your habits, and your habits decide your future.”
Good choices lead to a better life and the challenges listed below will encourage you to switch things up in a fun and exciting way!
Here are 35 challenge ideas to get you started;
- Listen to a positive podcast
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily
- Cut added sugar from diet
- Eat more veggies
- Meditate for 10-15 minutes
- Get outside and take a daily walk
- Home cook each meal
- Go on a alcohol ban
- Get eight hours of sleep each night
- Turn phone off after 9pm
- Read a book for 30 minutes
- Write down 3 things you’re grateful for
- Learn a new language (3-5 new words daily)
- Stop complaining
- Declutter something each day (phone, bedroom, emails, photos)
- Try a no spend month
- Send a handwritten letter each day
- Quit a bad habit that bothers you
- Try intermittent fasting
- Start a side hustle
- Give meaningful compliments
- Create a morning routine
- Create a vision board and reflect on it daily
- Laugh every day (read a joke, watch a funny movie etc)
- Take a social media or TV detox
- Take a photo each day
- Start a journal
- Complete a daily act of kindness (do one small thing for someone each day)
- Practice yoga
- Wake up at 5am
- Find a daily silver lining
- Give up caffeine
- Floss twice a day
- Try a fitness challenge
- Practice a hobby
At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing my progress, the lessons learnt from my 30-day challenge and the chosen goal for the next month, for added accountability!
Will you be joining me? If so, what will you choose for January?